It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling— that really hollowed-out feeling. ~ J.K. Rowling


“Strange how we decorate pain.
These ribbons, for instance,
and the small hard teardrops of blood.
Who are they for?
Do we think the dead care?” ~ Margaret Atwood, from “Morning in the Burned House”

Wednesday afternoon. Rainy and cooler, 76 degrees.

Last night I had a very melancholy dream: I was working for the government contractor again, preparing a major proposal, but for some reason I was doing the writing/editing at home. At one point during the dream, I’m in a coffee bar, and I’m waiting for a male friend of mine to finish his conversation with his lover. While I am waiting, I begin to draw with colored chalk on one of the walls. I don’t askI just do. The image that I create is incredible, swooping colors and forms emerging from my fingertips, and I wonder where this talent came from.

While I’m drawing, my friend leaves, so I sit down on a bench and just stare at what I’ve created. I ask for a glass of wine . . .

Daniel Vasquez-Diaz Window in Bidasoa, Fuenterrabia 1918
“Window in Bidasoa, Fuenterrabia” (1918)
by Daniel Vasquez-Diaz

Return to home and the proposal . . . for some reason, I’m trying to take a shower so that I can go in to work before the deadline, but I can’t quite get the shower to work, and it’s because i have too much on my mind. This idea of being late for work frequently appears in my dreams. I’ve run into a man with whom I used to share a very deep love, and he tells me that he has remarried and has a child, and this is the last thing I am expecting. I ask him why he didn’t tell me before, and he says that he didn’t know how.

I tell him that I still have to finish one whole section of the proposal, and that I cannot deal with what he has said right now. I turn my back on him so that he cannot see how much he has hurt me, and then I get in the shower with all of my clothes on. By the time I get out, he has gone, and I know that I will never see him again. My mother comes in and asks me why I am taking so long.

When I awake, I’m trying to remember the name of the person in the company who prepared the budgets for the proposals. I can only remember his first name: William. He wasn’t in the dream at all, but somehow my mind has carried on with the proposal theme into waking. I begin the day with a heavy heart.

“All I ever really want to know is how other people are making it through life—where do they put their body, hour by hour, and how do they cope inside of it.” ~ Miranda July, from It Chooses You

I won’t pretend that I’m doing better. I mean, I was, for a few days at least. But at this moment, the dining room table is covered with everything that I removed from the small, antique bookcase that sits in the corner of the living room. You see, the other day I decided to try to touch up some scratches on the dining room table . . . hours later, and I had touched up the finish on the coffee table, two end tables, the Bentwood rocker, another rocking chair, and the bookcase. I have no idea how any of this came about. I only know that I worked myself into a state of great pain.

Pierre Bonnard Landscape through a Window c1918
“Landscape through a Window” (c1918)
by Pierre Bonnard

So two days later, everything remains off the shelves and on the table, and I am no closer to having the house clean for Corey’s homecoming on Saturday. So here I sit, tired and depressed and completely unable to muster even a scintilla of energy. At least I have two more days . . .

At the moment, it’s raining, and thankfully, the temperature has dropped. But my mind is still on the dreams, on the chalk image and the heartbreaking words. I haven’t seen this man in decades. I have no idea as to where he is or what his life is like, so that he makes an appearance in my dreams and leaves me feeling devastated is, shall we say, unwelcome? But more, I am wishing that I actually had the artistic talent that I had in the dream, the ability to blend colors, create shapes, all without hesitation or thought.

I don’t know which part of the dream hurts more, and I wonder if other people dream this way: complete scenarios, emotions, colors, smells, tastes . . .

“But I won’t go there again.
We are all and only our distances
And when we touch that is what we touch.
Our messy shelves. Our sullen privations
And overabundance of lemons.
Our grief, our mountains and fields
And rivers of grief.” ~ Dan Chelotti, from “My Sparrow”

Other things: The air is so heavy, and while there is no mist, it feels that there should be one. Does that make sense? I don’t know . . .

Lately my nights are taking on a strange hue: the color of loneliness and ennui. I sit in bed and watch television. The dogs follow me from room to room, looking at me with anticipation as if I am going to do something incredibly exciting, and then sitting rather resolutely when I do not. Do you know how it feels to know that you have disappointed even your dogs? I am thankful for the company, but this loneliness will not lessen. This small house now has too many rooms.

My mother has been much on my mind, of late, and she pops up in my dreams constantly, even when she doesn’t fit the narrative, and that’s how it was in life as well. There is so much my mother never knew about me because at some point I stopped sharing, feeling that I would only receive scorn and negativity, as in, “why in god’s name would you do that?”—a comment I heard more than once in my life.

(c) Henrietta Garnett; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“A Venetian Window” (1926)
by Vanessa Bell

My mother would call and ask what I was doing, and I would tell her that I was on the computer. She would ask what I was doing on the computer, and I would use that catch-all word: writing, because to explain blogging would have been just too damned hard, and perhaps I didn’t give her credit, and perhaps she didn’t earn that credit, and perhaps I was too hard on her, and perhaps I learned hardness from her.

I only know that this year will be full of firsts, and I am not looking forward to any more of them: Olivia’s first birthday without her, my kids’ first birthdays without their Oma, the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, and truly, I would like nothing more than to be far far away when those dates roll around, having no desire to meet them head on.

“Sorrow is so woven through us, so much a part of our souls, or at least any understanding of our souls that we are able to attain, that every experience is dyed with its color. This is why, even in moments of joy, part of that joy is the seams of ore that are our sorrow. They burn darkly and beautifully in the midst of joy, and they make joy the complete experience that it is. But they still burn.” ~ Christian Wiman, from My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer

And it’s funny, but when my father appears in my dreams, he is just the same: quiet, unassuming, and I can deal with this visage of my father because it is so like the reality that was. But now, when my mother appears I do nothing but question. Why was she in that dream? What does it mean? Does it mean anything? Because, you see, she is different in the dreams, somehow. It’s hard to pinpoint it exactly. All I know is that sometimes she is so much more caring in my dreams, more concerned about my welfare, and it makes me wonder, really wonder, if she was this way in real life, and I just didn’t see it.

Too much . . . . . . . too much . . . . I am reminded of the Wordsworth poem, “The world is too much with us”:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—

Late and soon . . . . . . late and soon . . . . .

East Coast Window exhibited 1959 by Mary Potter 1900-1981
“East Coast Window” ()
by Mary Potter

My life is on a loop replay of literary quotes from things I read and studied so very many years ago. Funnily enough, I came across an older profile of myself in which I called myself a “Virginia poet,” and that really took me aback. How very pretentious of me. I write poetry so seldom now, having little to no faith in my abilities where verse is concerned. Needless to say, I changed the profile, but coming up with even the barest of descriptions for myself was taxing. I mean . . . . . . what am I?

Gah! I am too old to be doing this who am I crap.

“Some begin to talk,
to themselves, as do the mad;
some give their hearts to silence.” ~ Stephanie Strickland, from “The Red Virgin:  A Poem of Simone Weil”

I have said many times—in jest and not—that this world is purgatory, this here and now—this is the realm in which we are destined/doomed to work through our sins, resolve our issues. Again and again and again and again.

I feel as if I have spent my whole adult life to this point just waiting, waiting for life to begin. I will be able to do x once I have done y. I will be able to leave this area once my mother is no longer alive. I will be able to do to do . . . what??? It’s maddening, I tell you. How have I lived this long, done this much, and still have absolutely no idea as to who or what I am?

Konstantin Adreevich Somov View through a Window 1934
“View through a Window” (1934)
by Konstantin Andreevish Somov

I am (was?) a daughter, a mother, a spouse, an ex-spouse. For so many years I wanted to be someone’s sister, but that’s another story . . . I have been an editor, a staff writer for a weekly news insert, a newsroom supervisor, a proposal development specialist, a marketing director, a publications manager, and a sales manager. I have taught college, and I have taught middle school. I have managed staffs of 45, and staffs of 2. I have worked in a steak house and in a donut shop. I have been a nanny, a housekeeper, and a restaurant server. I have coordinated special events and memberships.

I have dated navy pilots, a devout catholic boy, a sociopathic liar, lawyers, and others. I married and divorced my best friend, and I married the man who has tried to make my dreams come true.

I have lost a daughter, a father, a mother, a woman who was like a mother, an uncle who was like a father, and many more.

What is the point of this litany? Well, you would think, wouldn’t you, that after all of this I might have a better idea of who and what I am, but I don’t. I really don’t, and part of me, a small part, envies those people who do one job their entire lives; I mean, for them, it seems that everything is clear cut. You work in factory x or business y. You get up, go to work, come home. You get raises and promotions along the way, and when someone asks you what you do, you have an answer.

“Wherever I turn, the black wave rushes down on me.” ~ Franz Kafka, from “Diaries”

Look. If I am to be honest, and that is what I am attempting to do, I would have to say that I have never been satisfied, even in my dream job of teaching English at ODU. While I was doing that, I kept thinking that I really needed to be in a doctoral program, and perhaps if I had followed through with that, I would still be teaching English at some college somewhere.

Richard Edward Miller Woman by a Window
“Woman by a Window” ()
by Richard Edward Miller

Follow through. Key words, those. I’m great at starting, at doing, but continuing? Going all the way to the end? As my dad used to say, “Shee-yit.” (I really miss hearing my dad say that. It was his one- word exclamation for just about anything, good and bad.)

Anyway, the point is . . . there is no point. I have reached and passed that milestone birthday, that one that signifies you are now definitely on the downswing of life, and I used to point out to Mari when we were adrift that May Sarton didn’t publish her first novel until she was in her 50s. Somehow, when you are in your 30s, that seems like all of the time in the world, that you have plenty of time to write your own verse.

When I presented Dead Poets Society to my literature classes, I was so finely attuned to Mr. Keating’s words, his query of the young boys: “The powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” I thought, then, that I did, indeed, have a verse.

Late and soon . . . . . . late and soon . . . . .

It is very late, and it is too soon, and I am no closer to any answers than when I typed the first word of this post. I am doing nothing more than decorating my pain. Atwood and Wordsworth, two worthy wordsmiths. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

More later. Peace.

Music by Lucius, “Go Home”

                   

Sailing on Lake Superior

Before us now the edge of the earth,
below us the nearly endless cold.
Around us nothing but shimmering
water,
the miles of empty and sparkling blue.

For a few hours, the sail fills on
toward infinity. Shadows of
our delicate bodies ebb and flow
across the deck of our delicate boat.

What if the beautiful days, the good
and pacific temperate moments,
weren’t just lovely, but everything?
What if I could let it fall away
in the wake, that ache to extract
meaning from vastness?

Let this suffice; the ease of thinking
it all goes on, whether we’re here
to see it or not. The splashing waves,
the suntipped gulls arcing across
the radiant world.

~ Kirsten Dierking

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“For doing exactly what you think you like all the time makes you feel in the end that nothing at all is worth doing.” ~ John Piper

 Album Cover Art for Brandenburg Concertos, by John Piper

                   

“To me, dreams are not as romantic as bits of real experience.” ~ John Piper

"Death of Venice 1," by John Piper (1973)

Welcome back. I’m sitting here in the pseudo Internet cafe of ODU’s student center waiting for Brett to finish his club meeting. He’s joined an anime club that meets every Thursday evening from 6 to 10 p.m. I’m so happy that he’s actually meeting new people on his own that I have agreed to drive him back and forth to the meetings (in addition to the commute to classes).

Tonight, since Corey’s shift doesn’t end until midnight, I decided to stay here and go ahead and catch up on my Internet work, the primary goal being to make a final decision on which theme I’m going to use for a while and secondly, to put up some kind of post.

As you can see from the header above, I have chosen the theme Vigilance, which puts the title of the blog on the header image. I haven’t done this before, but I think that the title looks pretty cool atop my new image, which is a detail from a work by British artist John Egerton Christmas Piper (1902-1992). The image title is included in a widget on the sidebar.

I thought that a new header image was in order for two reasons: Fall is upon us, and a new theme needs a new look.

“Good paintings in the long run tell their own story—though not in words—for those who have intent eyes, an open mind, and much patience.” ~ John Piper

"Forthinghay, Northamptonshire," by John Piper (1941; image was seen on the living room wall of Dial M for Murder)

So this evening’s post obviously has a Piper theme: quotes and images. I was unfamiliar with this particular artist until I saw the header image on a tumblr post and was immediately taken with it.  

Just a bit of background on Piper: He was born in Epsom Surrey and knew that he wanted to be an artist; unfortunately, he was subjected to that time-honored but often loathed tradition of working for his father as a clerk in the patriarch’s law firm. Eventually, Piper went to art school, ultimately attending the Royal Academy.

Piper’s oeuvre is amazingly far-reaching: sketches, paintings, lithography, prints, scenery design, costumes for opera, ballet, and theater, murals, stained glass, tapestries, and fabric. Piper was keenly interested in landscapes and architecture—other people’s architecture, preferably aged. He once commented that he would “rather paint a ruined abbey half-covered with ivy and standing in long grass.”

“The spread of moss on a wall, a pattern of vineyards or a perspective of hop-fields may be the peg, but it is not hop-poles or vineyards or church towers that these pictures are meant to be about, but the emotion generated by them at one moment in one special plane.” ~ John Piper

"The Glyders Fabric," by John Piper (1960)

One of the more irksome aspects of working on a computer in a public setting is the complete lack of privacy (obviously), but also the inability to tweak the settings on the computer. This particular screen is about half the size of my screen at home, so everything looks smaller to me.

One of the reasons that I changed themes again was that the other theme seemed to be very large (visually) as far as the body typeface, and since I’m not paying for an upgrade to tweak the coding, I’m stuck with the presets. On another note, I’ve noticed that as I’ve moved between themes, the heading sizes are completely inconsistent, so something labeled header 4 in one theme is just right for my internal headers, but then turns into something ginormous when I switch themes.

The perfectionist in me wants to go back to all previous posts and fix the headers and formatting so that everything is consistent, but that would take forever. It just bothers me because someone new to my blog who goes back into the archives might wonder if I was doing some serious drugs when I formatted some of the older posts as things go from very large to very small.

It’s hard to explain exactly, but I know that the differences exist, so that’s enough to drive me batty even though no one else really notices.

“The value of abstract painting to me, and the value of surrealist painting are to me, are (paradoxically, if you like) that they are classical exercises, not romantic expressions. They are disciplines—even dreams can be disciplinarian—which open a road to ones own heart—but they are not the heart itself.” ~ John Piper

"Spring, Youth, Earth" by John Piper (a study for an Ipswich School window)

Today was my hearing with the Judge who will decide my fate as regards Social Security. The lawyer representing me for the insurance company did a great job in preparing me for the hearing. We had already spent an hour on the phone last week, during which time she asked me a barrage of questions, things that I don’t really think about or things that I take for granted. For example, she asked me how long I stand in one place.

I don’t know . . . 15 minutes? Whatever. Have you ever thought about how long you can stand in one place? Didn’t think so. Apparently, it’s a very important measure of something.

So the hearing was supposed to take 30 minutes. We started about 10 minutes late and finished almost an hour later . . . There was some woman in the hearing (don’t really know who she was) who, I am presuming, functioned as some kind of official on jobs. By that I mean after I answered all of the judge’s questions, and after Christine asked me a bunch more questions to clarify certain issues, the judge turns to this woman and asks her what kinds of jobs I would qualify for.

I don’t know where the Department of Labor gets its statistics and descriptions, but boy are they wrong. For example, this woman stated that my position as a sales manager was sedentary. If I had been drinking something at the time, I’m pretty sure that it would have come out of my nose.

Sedentary? Jeez. I worked 60 hours a week on that job, and sitting down was something we did when we made the schedules. Other than that, there was a whole lot of running around, and lots and lots of lifting.

The phrase usual and customary kept running through my head, and I just bit my tongue.

“That, in whatever direction you look, is a subject worthy of contemporary painting. Pure abstraction is undernourished. It should at least be allowed to feed bare on a beach with tins and broken bottles.” ~ John Piper

"Leckhampstead, Berkshire" by John Piper (1964)

Christine (my legal representative) gave me one of those cautionary glances, as in “don’t lose it,” and I kept my mouth shut. Then Christine redirected and asked the women if any of the positions that she had listed would allow for two hours stretches in which I would have to be idle in order to rest as a result of pain (either from my back or from a migraine).

Obviously, the answer is no. Nevertheless, I won’t know anything for 30 to 90 days.

What’s up with that? It takes that long to make a decision. Why? Again with the waiting. I am so damned tired of the waiting. At least I don’t have to do any more forms . . . that is, I think that I don’t have to do any more forms.

I probably should not have put that down in print since the way in which my luck runs, I will probably receive a sheaf of forms in a large manila envelope any day.

The bottom line is that I felt, and Christine concurred, that the hearing went fairly well. I answered questions and elaborated as needed, and I reined in my tendency to get snotty when I’m tired of answering questions. So that hurdle has been crossed. Now, more waiting.

Do I even need to mention for the record that I had a migraine when it was all over?

That’s about all for now. This tiny screen is making me squint and I’ve started to cuss under my breath (always a sign that I should stop).

I appreciate all of the support from those of you out there who have kept a good thought for me. Thanks for hanging in with me. I didn’t disappear (completely). Hope to be posting more regularly now.

More later. Peace.

Music by Soulsavers, “Some Misunderstanding”